July 1st, 2015-Nadi, FIJI: The South Pacific Tourism Organisation (SPTO) is calling on regional stakeholders to create a clear strategy that will propel efforts to unite the agriculture and tourism sectors.
Chris Cocker, Project Manager of the European Union Pacific Regional Tourism and Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP), implemented with the SPTO made these remarks whilst presenting the Pacific Tourism Strategy 2014-2019 (PTS) at the Pacific Community Agritourism Week currently underway at the Sofitel Resort and Spa on Denarau.
“We need a coordinated approach to marry the two sectors and there is a need to form a steering group with the various stakeholders to move this forward. We are calling on the key stakeholders to engage and hold workshops to start developing a framework for a multi-year programme on agritourism that is in line with the PTS as well as the key strategies of all the stakeholders”, Mr. Cocker reiterated.
He said the SPTO is working on various training initiatives to link agriculture to tourism in the region as agriculture is the backbone of many regional economies and tourism is a fast growing developing sector.
“Through the PRTCBP the South Pacific Tourism Organisation has undertaken various culinary training programs in the region. These include training workshops in Fiji and Samoa in 2014, Tonga in 2015, a current Pacific Culinary Workshop running simultaneous with the Agritourism week in Nadi and a follow-on workshop for Savaii in Samoa in August.
“The workshops teach regional chefs and culinary trainers various cooking techniques in the use of local food resources for menus as well as creativity in food preparation with an overarching aim to encourage import substitution”, Mr. Cocker continued.
He said the Nadi workshop includes a Buyer Seller mart to initiate business linkages between the suppliers (Farmers) and buyers (Small and Micro-Enterprise Chefs/Owners/Managers) and to encourage working with local communities to supply these resources.
“Our awareness workshops conducted in conjunction with the Culinary training is aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of linking the agriculture and tourism sectors and we are working in collaboration with CROP agencies (SPTO, USP) to pool resources and nurture joint development of the tourism and agriculture sectors,” he added.
He said the SPTO acts as the conduit to national programmes for 17 Pacific Islands Countries (PICSs) on Agri Tourism activities and is promoting and establishing partnerships in collaboration with key stakeholders in the development of Pacific Agritourism.
“The SPTO is leading the coordination and implementation of regional activities proposed in the PTS 2015-2019 that supports and develops Pacific Agritourism and we are also heavy involved in lobbying and promoting Agritourism to appropriate international, regional and national meetings”, he continued.